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    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Free Weights vs. Machines [An Incomplete Crash History]

    In the 1970's, Ironman magazine began publishing articles written by an unknown in the bodybuilding world--Nautilus owner Arthur Jones. Like any snake oil salesman, Jones claimed that soon bodybuilders would have lats out beyond their elbows! As long as they were using his Nautilus Pullover machine.

    Oddly, he managed to hit on something with his budding carnival-atmosphere advertising style--bodybuilders are intelligent and ALWAYS on the lookout for anything that will make them bigger and stronger. Dr. Barry Sears used Muscle Media 2000 to introduce the Zone Diet in the mid-90's, and that took off like crazy. Bodybuilders are always looking for the latest edge and will evangelize something they think works. I don't think the Zone Diet would have blown up without the help of Muscle Media, but I'm getting off track. Some slick advertisers have realized that bodybuilders are one of the most vocal groups in the world.

    Although Jones claimed that many factors were required for proper exercise, the Nautilus Cam only "solved" one of those problems, while the machine itself either exacerbated existing problems or introduced new ones. The Nautilus cam is capable of doing one thing--automatically varying the resistance curve through a particular range of motion. A ROM, as it happens to be, dictated by the machine itself and usually involving the immobilization of the joint like in leg extensions.

    Jones recruited Casey Viator and Mike Mentzer. He had pictures of Arnold and Sergio taken on his property in Florida. There are even many pictures of Sergio on early Nautilus Pullover machines. All this was meant to insert Nautilus into the physique subculture. And, it worked. Jones is credited with setting the stage for a boom in heath club interest. In the 80's, you could barely swing a dead cat without hitting a Scandinavian (later bought by Bally's) or similar racquetball juicebar health club with a dirty Jacuzzi and way too many naked guys standing around in the locker room. Brooks Kubik called them all "chrome and fern land" in Dinosaur Training.

    One high-profile opponent of machines was Jeff Everson. Not only did he do research on this very subject in college, but he would randomly publish articles bashing machines while he was the editor of Muscle and Fitness. M&F actually sent Dr. Fred Hatfield down to Lake Helen, Florida at the behest of Jones himself. This lead to one of the most storied confrontations in bodybuilding history, with both men claiming that the other was lying about what happened down there when Hatfield's strength levels were tested using Jones' equipment. Jones claimed that not only were Hatfield's quads weak, but had a higher than normal slow-twitch fiber count. Well, those are fightin' words when you're one of the greatest competitive squatters who has ever lived. This resulted in years of accusations, mostly from Jones, that Hatfield wrote an article in M&F that was full of lies, including the length of his prized crocodile. Jones was a Howard Hughes class eccentric.

    In the early 80's, Nautilus was working on a line of leverage machines that were plate-loading. One of the first prototypes was an overhead press machine. When you compare the early Nautilus prototypes to early Hammer Strength shoulder machines, you'll notice a striking similarity. That's because they're the same thing. Gary Jones, Arthur Jones' son, took the concept and formed Hammer Strength. Hammer Strength machines are nothing more than a literal extension of the original Nautilus prototypes. With the introduction of "selectorized" (weight-stack) machines years ago, the company came full circle. Most Hammer Strength machines you will see in the gym are based on differences in leverage, but some are designed to vary the resistance curve with a Nautilus-like cam.

    So, what advantage can a Nautilus-style cam (most Strive, Cybex, or MedX machines) or a Hammer-strength leverage machine offer to the trainee? Well, these types of machines are usually designed to increase the resistance curve almost linearly up to the position of motion that the company thinks the human body should be strongest in. Strive machines actually allow you to vary the resistance curve by either adjusting the cam or changing leverages on the plate loading machines. For instance, most biceps curl machines with a cam will increase the resistance up to the point of full contraction. Some cams are now designed to taper off at the end which is probably a reaction to Jones' MedX line of machines he designed after selling Nautilus.

    This is the only advantage machines offer, along with the dubious advantage being able to handle way more weight on a Hammer Strength press machine than a barbell and not needing a spotter during what would normally be a complicated barbell lift. However, the disadvantages to using machines are numerous and significantly outweigh any advantage a trainee might gain by trying to train his muscles in the "proper strength curve."

    One of the most dangerous disadvantages is the axial range that machines force an anchored joint to flex within. Most single joint machine exercises specifically immobilize the joint nearest the muscle insertion. When you immobilize a joint--compare dumbbell curls to machine curls--you reduce your ability to move that joint into its strongest position, and are constantly stressing a particular point of the muscle tendon insertion while neglecting others. Having one half of the insertion of your biceps muscles stronger than the other half will only lead to injury.
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    almost

    no
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    cliffs hansel?
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    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JaredMims View Post

    almost

    no
    Who'sa whatsit?
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  5. #5
    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by (no radnes) View Post
    cliffs hansel?
    Yes.
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    Registered User grumble1's Avatar
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    You're saying the free weights are better than machines? Really? I'm shocked.


    There is one other advantage of machines, that being that they take no effort or brains to learn how to use. Before machines people had to teach trainees how to use the equipment, and someone had to teach the teachers. With machines anyone can teach someone in five minutes how to use a machine circuit. They're also shiny and impressive-looking, so they sell memberships.
    GOMAD!
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  7. #7
    Durty Bulker LightCrow's Avatar
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    The OP's post is a profile in courage to declare free weights superior to machines.
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    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LightCrow View Post

    The OP's post is a profile in courage to declare free weights superior to machines.
    Thanks man!

    Actually, I was just trying to write a humorous history essay.
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  9. #9
    Registered User GuyJin's Avatar
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    Smile

    Originally Posted by LightCrow View Post
    The OP's post is a profile in courage to declare free weights superior to machines.
    -----------

    Must remember to rep you again when system allows me.

    OP,

    You do realize that the machine lovers will lash out against you in an angry tirade! You do realize that machines are SUPERIOR for muscular development!! You also realize that the previous sentence is full of s--t for the most part and that I will rep you if I can.

    Gladiator, I salute you!!!
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  10. #10
    Registered User jgreystoke's Avatar
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    Ok guys.

    I love barbells and dumbells. Even have a half a dozen barrels in the garden with different amounts of water in each. Also have chains, thick handle dumbells, a homemade thick barbell set up for olympic weights, bumper plates etc.

    I still want machines for certain advantages or functions:

    1. Grip machine(got one made for a hundred bucks). Can add half a kilo a session, unlike my Captains of Crush grippers.

    2. Tri extensions. Hurt my elbows less than doing skullcrushers.

    3. Lat pulldown for warmups before chins, if I am cold.

    4. Leg press. Inferior to the squat, don't I know. But have serious knee issues. Also allow you to overload the squatting muscles when another set of squats would be downright dangerous due to fatigue causing a breakdown of form.

    5. Machine press. Allow you to overload the pressing muscles when another set of military presses would be dodgy due to fatigue causing breakdown of form.

    None of the above replace barbells. If you are going somewhere with the barbells and dumbells, then machines should be a bonus as described.

    Not a substitute, just a supplement.

    If I rebuild a 50' x 20' shed, and move my gym there, I'll get a commercial leg press that I saw that can be loaded to 1400 kilos. That should do 'til I am a bit stronger.......
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    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jgreystoke View Post

    1. Grip machine(got one made for a hundred bucks). Can add half a kilo a session, unlike my Captains of Crush grippers.
    I used to workout in a gym that had a Hammer Strength plate loading grip "machine." I don't know if this is the same thing, but I loved using that. Personally, I've found that Farmer's Walk seems to increase my forearm strength and tendon development to a much greater degree than crush/close style of exercises.

    I did just throw away one of those Ivanko adjustable spring grippers which I thought was a piece of f'n junk.

    I'm going to start a club in my garage: The He-Man Woman-Haters Club, and we'll all drink and smoke blunts and complain about ex girlfriends and I'll use the dues to buy a full set of Captains of Crush grippers!

    NO GURLZ ALLOWED
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    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    ...........and I'll use the dues to buy a full set of Captains of Crush grippers!
    Have the set from the trainer to the #3. Can close the #1.5 in spite of pains in base of the thumb muscles, due to training the finger flexors hard, but neglecting the rubber band extensions.

    Tip # 1. Don't forget to extend as well as flex

    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    NO GURLZ ALLOWED
    And no guys who want to keep a wimpy grip, 'cos they are afraid of callouses....

    Tip # 2. When my wife complains, or I notice I can scratch my arm just by running my other palm down it, I rub almond oil into the palms and fingers. That keeps the calluses from splitting, keeps the skin thick and slightly supple, and less likely to tear during heavy pulls etc.
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    Originally Posted by jgreystoke View Post
    Tip # 2. When my wife complains, or I notice I can scratch my arm just by running my other palm down it, I rub almond oil into the palms and fingers. That keeps the calluses from splitting, keeps the skin thick and slightly supple, and less likely to tear during heavy pulls etc.
    I'd actually grab a piece of fine grit sandpaper and run it over over my hands a couple of times, just enough to wear down any parts of the calluses that are sticking out and causing scratches. I'd then use some kind of moisture thing, yeah.
    GOMAD!
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    OP,

    Is your real name "Calvin" (of "Calvin and Hobbes" fame) by any chance?

    Funny post, but I agree with jgreystoke about the need for machines every now and then. Honestly, I prefer free weights, but since my wife has loaded up our storage room with things like clothes, books, old videos--you know, useless stuff--I've had to work out a a local fitness center. No squat rack or low incline bench area---they have a...a...SMITH MACHINE! (There is a bench and an Olympic bar--I use that for sumo deadlifts, shrugs, and bent rows).

    There; I said it. And I'll say it again: Smith Machine. I use that sucker for low-incline presses and front squats. Yes, I'd much rather use the free weight versions and one day when my storage room comes back to me I WILL use the free weights again and start out light to help my ignored stabilizer muscles. Other machines in the past I've found were good: Nautilus leg press and leg curl, pullover and row machines by Nautilus and other reputable companies. I've only tried Hammer once and never used a Med-X so I have no comment on those machines at all. Ditto for Strive, and only once did I try out Cybex.

    I'll just say that machines have their place and should be used accordingly.
    Last edited by GuyJin; 01-30-2010 at 09:28 PM.
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    Registered User sonti's Avatar
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    I hate machines and I have spent $1000's on my own free weights (squat rack,bars,plates,etc), BUT they do have their place for some special populations. I am 6 months pregnant and find it increasingly difficult to be stable during many exercises because I've got a big belly in front but I'm still thin all-around. So, they are helpful to some
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    You are on ignore CookAndrewB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sonti View Post
    I hate machines and I have spent $1000's on my own free weights (squat rack,bars,plates,etc), BUT they do have their place for some special populations. I am 6 months pregnant and find it increasingly difficult to be stable during many exercises because I've got a big belly in front but I'm still thin all-around. So, they are helpful to some
    I've lifted around plenty of guys that have a big belly, you don't hear them complaining





    Agree that machines are great for certain populations. As much as I would love my mother to get out and barbell squat, it isn't going to happen. Resistance training isn't always about bodybuilding or superhuman strength development, and frankly if getting on a few machines for 30 minutes a couple times a week will help her bones from being brittle, will help keep her active but not injured, and gives her a sense of accomplishment, I'll give all the cybex machines in the world a big thumbs up.
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    People expect excuses. John_Ford's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CookAndrewB View Post

    As much as I would love my mother to get out and barbell squat, it isn't going to happen. Resistance training isn't always about bodybuilding or superhuman strength development, and frankly if getting on a few machines for 30 minutes a couple times a week will help her bones from being brittle, will help keep her active but not injured, and gives her a sense of accomplishment, I'll give all the cybex machines in the world a big thumbs up.
    I agree with you in theory, but I've found that novice trainees--which are usually the ones using the Cybex circuit--are much more likely to become injured and discouraged when they "compromise" and use machines. Especially bad machines.

    One insidious problem with machines is that, for instance, the bicep curl machine seems logical in the way it's set up. When the trainee reads the little placard or sticker on the machine, they think they should understand it. Gyms are intimidating to beginners. So they sit down and do a few reps and fiddle with the pin to adjust the weight and then do a few more reps and don't even understand what's going on. And then their wrists hurt and their elbows hurt and they become completely turned off to the health benefits that proper resistance training can provide. Especially bone density benefits.

    The question would be, how to you train an older person in the least complicated way?

    I was watching Avatar the other day. The hero/protagonist meets the grizzled Marine head of security in the middle of a bench pressing session. He barks something like "son, the microgravity out here will make you weak!"

    That's the problem astronauts face. Because gravity is so low, there is much less downward compression force on the bone mass. The bones literally don't need to be as strong in space.

    How would you increase gravity on the human body to increase bone density?

    If you wanted to do it passively, you could wear a weighted vest a few hours per day while standing around at home or out on a walk.

    I always wondered if that would work. I've heard the legend of one ultra endurance runner from new zealand who's main training was wearing extra heavy boots while he herded sheep.
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    Registered User SumDumGoi's Avatar
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    If you are looking at the specific endpoints of increases in strength & muscle mass and reductions in body fat, there is no advantage of using either free weights or machines. In other words, from a BBs perspective there is no adherent benefit from using one modality vs the other.

    However, the amount of strength that you gain is dependent on the modality of the exercise used (i.e. strength gains that you incur doing squats don't fully translate over to a leg press and strength gain incurred using a leg press won't fully translate over to squat). So if you are a powerlifter or competitive weight lifter obviously you should train using the specific exercises you will use during competition. In terms of sports performance there is little to no evidence indicating that one modality would have an advantage over the other.

    In the end the only things that truly matter are progression and overload.


    The Effect of Variable Resistance and Free-Weight Training Programs on Strength and Vertical Jump

    Summary: Proponents of variable resistance machines claim that greater strength gains can be achieved with these devices than with more conventional training equipment. Two experiments are described that compare variable resistance exercises with traditional free-weight exercises. In the first experiment, static strength and vertical jump gains resulting from training three times a week for 13 weeks with the recommended programs of two different variable resistance leg machines are compared to gains made from a program of box squats (dorsal thigh parallel to floor) using olympic barbells.

    In the second experiment, gains in static strength achieved from training on a variable resistance biceps brachii machine, three times a week for eight weeks, are compared to gains obtained from curls performed with free-weights. Analysis of variance on the gain scores with the pretest as a covariate was used to compare the effects of the various programs. The findings indicated that exercises performed with variable resistance machines and free-weights were equally effective at developing strength. A finding, which varies from accepted belief, was that one set to failure was as effective as three sets of six repetitions with 80% of one repetition maximum (1 RM); this may warrant future study.

    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Abs..._Weight.6.aspx

    A Comparison of the Effects of Three Strength Training Programs on Women

    The purpose of this study was to compare the strength and body composition changes produced by three different strength training programs: isotonic, involving free weights; compound variable resistance, involving Nautilus (P.O. Drawer 809014, Dallas Texas); and linear variable resistance, utilizing the Soloflex (570 NE 53rd, Hillsboro, Oregon) device. Thirty-two female subjects performed pre- and posttests for strength utilizing the one repetition maximum (1 RM) test on three exercises from each of the training programs. Subjects were pre- and posttested on four skinfold thicknesses, percent body fat and body girths. The subjects utilized one of three training programs three times a week for 12 weeks. All three modes of training were found to significantly increase strength levels (p < 0.05). Subjects who trained with free weights or Nautilus performed at significantly higher levels when tested for 1 RM on exercises included in their training program. Strength gains of the nautilus training group were significantly higher levels (p < 0.05) than those of soloflex training group on the free weight leg press 1 RM test. there were no other significant different strength gains as a result of the training programs. The training programs to produce significant decreases in the arm, thigh and suprailiac skinfolds, as well as decreases in percent body fat. No significant changes were found in the girth measurements or abdominal skin fold. No significant differences were found among the training groups for effect on body composition variables. It was concluded that the three training programs produced comparable changes in body composition and strength, with training specificity in strength gains.

    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Ab...trength.5.aspx

    A Comparison of Two Methods of raining on the Development of Muscular Strength and Endurance.

    Sanders MT.

    The purpose of this study was to compare the relative effectiveness of using traditional barbell equipment and Nautilus dynamic equipment on the development of muscular strength and endurance. The subjects, 22 college students, were pre and posttested on two 3-minute bouts of rhythmic isometric exercise. After pretesting, the subjects were assigned to two groups. For the next 5 weeks, all groups trained three times weekly, but one group trained using traditional barbell equipment and the second group used Nautilus dynamic equipment. Results indicated significant improvement as a result of training in both groups, but no significant differences were found between the two training methods or the groups by training interaction for any of the variables evaluated. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1980;1(4):210-213.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1...m&ordinalpos=3
    The Effects of Manual Resistance Training on Improving Muscular Strength and Endurance

    Dorgo, S, King, GA, and Rice, CA. The effects of manual resistance training on improving muscular strength and endurance. J Strength Cond Res 23(1): 293-303, 2009-The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a manual resistance training (MRT) program on muscular strength and endurance and to compare these effects with those of an identically structured weight resistance training (WRT) program. To do this, 84 healthy college students were randomly assigned to either an MRT (n = 53, mean ? SD: age 25.6 ? 6.0 years, height 170.1 ? 8.1 cm, body mass 73.9 ? 16.0 kg, and body fat 24.6 ? 8.7%) or WRT (n = 31, mean ? SD: age 25.5 ? 5.2 years; height 169.6 ? 10.1 cm, body mass 75.0 ? 17.4 kg, and body fat 24.7 ? 8.5%) group and engaged in a 14-week training program. Each participant's performance was assessed before and immediately after the 14-week training period. Muscular strength was assessed by the one-repetition maximum (1RM) bench press test and the 1RM squat test. Muscular endurance was recorded as the maximum number of repetitions performed with 70% of pretraining 1RM for the bench press and squat exercises. There were no significant differences between the MRT and WRT groups at baseline for muscular strength (p > 0.36) or muscular endurance (p > 0.46). Compared with baseline values, the 14-week training programs produced significant (p < 0.001) improvements in muscular strength and muscular endurance of the MRT and WRT groups. However, no significant difference was observed between the MRT and WRT groups for muscular strength (p > 0.22) or for muscular endurance (p > 0.09) after training. The improvements in muscular strength and muscular endurance after a 14-week MRT program in the present study were similar to those produced by a WRT program, and well-designed MRT exercises seem to be effective for improving muscular fitness.

    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Ab...ing_on.42.aspx
    The Effects of Training with Free Weights or Machines on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Testosterone and Cortisol Levels

    Free weights are generally preferred over machines by practitioners of strength training because they involve incorporation of greater muscle mass because of the greater stabilization that is required. Using free weights may therefore allow one to gain more muscle mass and strength with chronic training; however, this has not been thoroughly addressed. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of training with free weights or machines on muscle mass, testosterone and cortisol concentrations, and strength. Fifteen males and twenty-one females aged 22 ? 3 y with previous weight training experience trained using only free weights or only machines for eight weeks. Hormone concentrations were assessed via saliva samples pre and post workout at the beginning, mid-way, and end of the study. Muscle thickness, lean tissue mass, and strength were measured at the beginning and the end of the study. Elbow flexor thickness increased significantly by 3.9% and a 5.1% in the free weight group and machine group, respectively (p<0.01), with no difference between groups. Knee extensor thickness increased significantly by 4.6% and a 4.9% in the free weight group and machine group, respectively (p<0.01), with no difference between groups. No significant changes occurred in the lean tissue mass during the eight week training period. The group x time interaction for machine bench press strength was close to significance (p=0.054) with the machine training group experiencing a greater increase in strength compared to the free weight training group (13.9% vs. 8.6%). Free weight bench press, free weight squat, and Smith machine squat strength increased significantly in both groups (11-19%; p<0.01) with no difference between groups. The males in the free-weight group had a 21.7% increase in testosterone from before to after acute training sessions (p<0.01); however, the acute increase in testosterone to cortisol ratio in males training with free weights did not differ from males training on machines. Results from this study indicate that training with free weights or machines result in similar increases in muscle mass and strength, and testosterone to cortisol ratio. Males training with free weights may benefit from a greater acute increase in testosterone levels during individual training sessions.

    http://library2.usask.ca/theses/avai...172008-121030/
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    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    If you are looking at the specific endpoints of increases in strength & muscle mass and reductions in body fat, there is no advantage of using either free weights or machines. In other words, from a BBs perspective there is no adherent benefit from using one modality vs the other.
    I think you mean inherent.

    By definition, barbell exercises offer inherent advantages over machines. There is no mechanical friction, the barbell can be moved in multiple planes at once, the list goes on and on.

    The only two advantages anyone has ever proven cam and leverage based machines can offer are these:

    1. The resistance curve can be mechanically varied. [I don't consider this an advantage.]
    2. No spotters are needed. [Not necessarily an advantage.]

    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    The Effects of Training with Free Weights or Machines on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Testosterone and Cortisol Levels
    If you read that one, you'll figure out it was a Masters thesis and not a journal article.

    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    A Comparison of Two Methods of raining on the Development of Muscular Strength and Endurance.
    Sanders MT.

    The purpose of this study was to compare the relative effectiveness of using traditional barbell equipment and Nautilus dynamic equipment on the development of muscular strength and endurance. The subjects, 22 college students, were pre and posttested on two 3-minute bouts of rhythmic isometric exercise. After pretesting, the subjects were assigned to two groups. For the next 5 weeks, all groups trained three times weekly, but one group trained using traditional barbell equipment and the second group used Nautilus dynamic equipment. Results indicated significant improvement as a result of training in both groups, but no significant differences were found between the two training methods or the groups by training interaction for any of the variables evaluated.
    I don't know what "rhythmic isometric exercise" is, but it sounds like an oxymoron. Either way, I think the study was set up to figure out if Nautilus machines offer some kind of training advantage. Which they didn't in this study. But, I think the strength testing was confounded. WTF is rhythmic isometric, again?

    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    A Comparison of the Effects of Three Strength Training Programs on Women

    The purpose of this study was to compare the strength and body composition changes produced by three different strength training programs: free weights; Nautilus; and the Soloflex device. Thirty-two female subjects performed pre- and posttests for strength utilizing the one repetition maximum (1 RM) test on three exercises from each of the training programs.
    The Soloflex was a piece of garbage.

    I'm not a woman, and this study is from 20 years ago. Back when the free weights vs. machines debate was REALLY raging.
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    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    I agree with you in theory, but I've found that novice trainees--which are usually the ones using the Cybex circuit--are much more likely to become injured and discouraged when they "compromise" and use machines. Especially bad machines.
    See, again I think we are talking about a different population. These "novices" that you are describing are the same ones that watch a Bowflex commercial and see insanely sculpted bodies and think that doing a couple "whatevers" will get you there in 30 minutes or less. So I think the frustration comes from a lack of reasonable expectations, and not any particular training methodology.


    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    One insidious problem with machines is that, for instance, the bicep curl machine seems logical in the way it's set up. When the trainee reads the little placard or sticker on the machine, they think they should understand it. Gyms are intimidating to beginners. So they sit down and do a few reps and fiddle with the pin to adjust the weight and then do a few more reps and don't even understand what's going on. And then their wrists hurt and their elbows hurt and they become completely turned off to the health benefits that proper resistance training can provide. Especially bone density benefits.
    There are some oddly designed machines out there, I'll agree to that. I've used machines where lever arms were not right and it was uncomfortable to use it from start to finish. However, I find that most of your basic machines really are pretty straight forward. So long as the user has been given some kind of instruction as to how to adjust it to fit, I don't see much potential for injury, especially not when they are doing pretty light weight "3 sets of 8" type routines.

    I can tell you, through much debate and frustration with my mother, that a lot of people don't care what is going on. They know they need to exercise to lose weight/maintain health, but beyond that it is a fog of confusion. At the end of the day you don't have to understand what is going on to get some very basic benefits. We aren't talking hypertrophy, or maybe even strength gain. Think of it as a good alternative to sitting in a chair at the old people's home watching Wheel of Fortune for the 800th time


    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    The question would be, how to you train an older person in the least complicated way?
    I think this is the wrong question to ask. What you should be asking is how do you ensure compliance and consistency in training? Simply put, how do you get them to stick with it for longer than your average New Years resolution trainee? Something is certainly better than nothing, and if you get a long enough string of "something" put together you really can see measurable results. This holds true for any trainee.
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    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    I think you mean inherent.

    By definition, barbell exercises offer inherent advantages over machines. There is no mechanical friction, the barbell can be moved in multiple planes at once, the list goes on and on.

    The only two advantages anyone has ever proven cam and leverage based machines can offer are these:

    1. The resistance curve can be mechanically varied. [I don't consider this an advantage.]
    2. No spotters are needed. [Not necessarily an advantage.]



    If you read that one, you'll figure out it was a Masters thesis and not a journal article.



    I don't know what "rhythmic isometric exercise" is, but it sounds like an oxymoron. Either way, I think the study was set up to figure out if Nautilus machines offer some kind of training advantage. Which they didn't in this study. But, I think the strength testing was confounded. WTF is rhythmic isometric, again?



    The Soloflex was a piece of garbage.

    I'm not a woman, and this study is from 20 years ago. Back when the free weights vs. machines debate was REALLY raging.

    How about you back up anything you are trying to say. Machines, free-weights, whatever, there are no differences in terms of results.
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    Resistance is resistance. If you are not training for a specific sport--powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongman training--then any kind of resistance will do, as long as it is progressive and consistent. With this, I will agree.

    However, there are some subtle differences I've noticed. For one, as has already been mentioned, certain machines "lock" you in to a guided path of resistance, which may not always be beneficial. The body's joints should be given freedom(!) to articulate and move freely; most machines prevent that. Therefore, the stabilizing muscles will not get 100% of the stimulation they'll need, and that's why guys (or gals) who bench on machines report they're weaker when returning to free weights. Of course, given time, their stabilizing muscles and previous "neural learning" will catch up, but it's still a bit of an ego letdown when it all begins again on the free weight range.

    The other thing is that certain machines simply don't fit your body type--or the other way around, your body type may not fit the machine. Sort of like stuffing a square into a round hole, as it were. Granted, those exceptions are relatively few, but they do exist. Free weights allow you to "tailor" your body to the movement needed to push/pull that weight.

    Another thing is that in the "real world" you don't sit your butt down on a padded cushion and stuff your body inside/on (whatever) a machine. There aren't always that many instances where the weight you may have to lift is "balanced on all points of the ROM"--it just doesn't work that way. Of course, in "real life" you probably won't have to worry about picking a car off someone or hefting a heavy boulder out of the way, but free weights tend to mimic real-life situations better than machines do. (Generalization, I know).

    The final thing is psychological. It is so much cooler for the vast majority of young dudes to say: "I benched 315 for a single, brah!" than say: "I did three plates on the Hammer, man!" That's mainly due to the standard being free weights as a meausure of strength in the "real world." Perhaps that viewpoint needs changing or not; I don't know. But until other standards are set i.e. "The International Plate-Loading Championships On Hammer and Nautilus" then free weights and their standards are the ones we use.
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    LOL nice post....I used to do the machines when I first started working out cause I didn't feel like messing with the free weights. I am now almost 100% on free weights. I think just about the only thing I use that isn't free weights are sitting cable rows and tricep pulldowns....other than that I'm on free weights.
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    Originally Posted by timstone View Post
    LOL nice post....I used to do the machines when I first started working out cause I didn't feel like messing with the free weights. I am now almost 100% on free weights. I think just about the only thing I use that isn't free weights are sitting cable rows and tricep pulldowns....other than that I'm on free weights.
    Awesome, man.

    Welcome to the fold.
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    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    How about you back up anything you are trying to say. Machines, free-weights, whatever, there are no differences in terms of results.
    I am still trying to figure out why you are so bent out of shape over the ONE ournal article you cite in your sets/reps argument.

    It is silly and misinformed to say there are no differences between machines and barbells.

    The whole premise the "machine revolution" is based on is untrue.

    Now, the argument has become "well, it doesn't matter, whatever, there's no difference."

    Observable reality backs up what I write.
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    For mass, using machines AND freeweights is way better than just using freeweights.

    For the same exercises, the resistance is different along the same range of motion. So using both is the same workout has more of a synergistic effect.

    That said, if I trained for strength, I don't think I would bother with machines.
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    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    I am still trying to figure out why you are so bent out of shape over the ONE ournal article you cite in your sets/reps argument.

    It is silly and misinformed to say there are no differences between machines and barbells.

    The whole premise the "machine revolution" is based on is untrue.

    Now, the argument has become "well, it doesn't matter, whatever, there's no difference."

    Observable reality backs up what I write.
    You seriously dug up a thread from 4 pages back so you could argue with me some more and show your ignorance? I'm sorry, but the only thing your body recognizes is resistance. It does not care whether it is from free weights or machines. As long as you manage to create overload, why would the type of resistance (machines or free weights) matter? Why is it that there has never been a single documented piece of evidence stating that one is better than the other?

    Also, what is this "machine revolution" you speak of? No one has ever said machines are "superior" to free weights. You seem to be talking like I, or anyone else for that matter, has said that machines produce better results. No one has! The argument never changed so why would you portray the argument in such a manner? Oh, that's right. You don't really know what you are talking about.
    Last edited by SumDumGoi; 02-02-2010 at 05:32 PM.
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    Originally Posted by SumDumGoi View Post

    You seriously dug up a thread from 4 pages back so you could argue with me some more and show your ignorance?

    1.) I'm sorry, but the only thing your body recognizes is resistance. It does not care whether it is from free weights or machines. As long as you manage to create overload, why would the type of resistance (machines or free weights) matter?

    2.) Why is it that there has never been a single documented piece of evidence stating that one is better than the other?

    3.) Also, what is this "machine revolution" you speak of? No one has ever said machines are "superior" to free weights.
    That thread was from two days ago. Have you moved on to the next "best set and rep scheme" trawled from another random journal article already?

    Also, I appreciate you using your forum rep to neg me. Stay classy, San Francisco.

    Anyway, back to the science of things.

    1. That's exactly why this concept is so hard for you to process, because you believe it doesn't matter. You believe it doesn't matter to the point of specifically asking "why would the type of resistance matter?"

    2. On evidence, here are two articles published by the NCSA themselves:


    "Considerations in Gaining A Strength-Power Training Effect (Machines vs. Free Weights). NSCA Journal, 1982"

    "The Purpose of this paper is to give the reader information concerning training mode philosophy and reasons why free weights (if used correctly) will produce superior results to that of training largely with machines."
    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Cit...art_II_.5.aspx

    "A Comparison of Muscle Activity Between a Free Weight and Machine Bench Press. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 1994"

    "Results suggested greater muscle activity during the free-weight bench press, especially at the 60% 1-RM load, although there were notable differences among the patterns of individual subjects."
    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Ab...a_Free.11.aspx


    3. Arthur Jones even sold West Point Naval Academy on the concept that machines work better than free weights for strength gain. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the scammers and salesmen have all moved on and no one claims Hammer Strength machines are better than free weights anymore.
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    Originally Posted by John_Ford View Post
    That thread was from two days ago. Have you moved on to the next "best set and rep scheme" trawled from another random journal article already?

    Also, I appreciate you using your forum rep to neg me. Stay classy, San Francisco.

    Anyway, back to the science of things.

    1. That's exactly why this concept is so hard for you to process, because you believe it doesn't matter. You believe it doesn't matter to the point of specifically asking "why would the type of resistance matter?"

    2. On evidence, here are two articles published by the NCSA themselves:


    "Considerations in Gaining A Strength-Power Training Effect (Machines vs. Free Weights). NSCA Journal, 1982"

    "The Purpose of this paper is to give the reader information concerning training mode philosophy and reasons why free weights (if used correctly) will produce superior results to that of training largely with machines."
    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Cit...art_II_.5.aspx

    "A Comparison of Muscle Activity Between a Free Weight and Machine Bench Press. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 1994"

    "Results suggested greater muscle activity during the free-weight bench press, especially at the 60% 1-RM load, although there were notable differences among the patterns of individual subjects."
    http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Ab...a_Free.11.aspx


    3. Arthur Jones even sold West Point Naval Academy on the concept that machines work better than free weights for strength gain. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the scammers and salesmen have all moved on and no one claims Hammer Strength machines are better than free weights anymore.
    The problem with the first paper you cited is that it is essentially nothing more than an opinion piece from 28 years ago. Lots of people had misconceptions and not much research has really been done in this area before then. I would not suggest holding that up in the air and waving it to prove your point. The research that has been conducted since then has proven otherwise.

    The problem with the second article that you cited is that the only thing that was measured is EMG activity. You are making an assumption that this leads to an increase in strength and muscular hypertrophy. For example, from this abstract you can't tell where the increase in muscular activity is coming from. Let's say you are working your chest. Using free weights you would expect that the chest would be activated, but I would also expect that the shoulders to be activated slightly more as well as compared to machines. Although the shoulders would be activated more to help stabilize the weight it may not necessarily lead to an increase in hypertrophy. This would especially be true if you are working your shoulders using another exercise.

    I know you think that this study is sexy, but it really doesn't prove anything. You are making a leap in logic by saying that this increase in activity is physiologically significant enough to enhance muscular strength and hypertrophy. The studies that I selected above all had specific endpoints relating directly to both strength and hypertrophy. When it comes to these endpoints, there is no difference. Good effort, but try again.
    Last edited by SumDumGoi; 02-02-2010 at 06:57 PM.
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    Originally Posted by twinklefairy View Post

    For mass, using machines AND freeweights is way better than just using freeweights.

    That said, if I trained for strength, I don't think I would bother with machines.
    I don't agree with you, but you are more muscular than I am--and that does mean something in the real world.

    Brooks Kubik said that musclebuilding is an art and not a science.

    My personal belief is that a large number of bodybuilders are covertly masochistic. I certainly do get a rush of endorphins when I'm working near capacity. And, I will say that you'd be hard pressed to find an exercise more painful than doing bicep curls in a Hammer Strength machine where you lift with both arms and then lower with just one.

    Oh, and the Seated Calf Raise machine is necessary. My argument is mainly with variable resistance cam or leverage based machines.
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